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THE MENUHIN HALL, SURREY

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BCI AWARDS - SMALL BUILDING PROJECT

For building schemes valued at under £3 million. Sponsored by BAA.

The huge grin on headmaster Nicolas Chisholm's face and a few words summarised one of the best projects ever entered for the BCI Awards: 'I'm thrilled by the building! Thrilled by the price!'

The music school needed a performance space in its own grounds where pupils could gain experience of playing in front of 'real' audiences, most often fellow students and special guests.

Particular intimacy was needed to enable students in the audience to observe playing technique closely. The stage can accommodate an orchestra of 45 performing for an audience of just over 300 in the comfortable fixed seating and individual swivel chairs on the balcony, which sweeps right around the back of the stage.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the available site in the school's parkland grounds is the proximity of the M25 motorway. The road is largely screened by trees but vehicles can be seen clearly and a considerable amount of noise is heard outside.

The BCI Awards judging team had no sound-level testing apparatus other than their ears. But these measured the ambient sound inside the carefully engineered hall as zero. Client The Yehudi Menuhin School Cost £2.8 million Principal designer Burrell Foley Fischer Acoustic consultant Sound Space Design Contractor R Durtnell & Sons

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